Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Skies are Clearing for Students Researching Climate Change

Here at the library we see a multitude of high school research topics. Each topic comes with its own challenges. One problem students writing papers about climate change experience is finding reliable sources for research and data. There’s just so much opinion based on political ideology or wishful thinking that sometimes it’s difficult to find raw numbers based on science. And even if the student finds research from a reliable source, it frequently requires a Ph.D. to decipher.

The United Nations Climate Change Portal represents the final word on climate change research while solving these problems. The site is easy to navigate, current, and covers all aspects of climate change. Research and findings from 38 different international organizations and U.N. agencies can be accessed via this portal. Users can find information about mitigation technology, the economics and politics of climate change and, of course, the science behind the numbers.

Clicking on the tab marked science reveals multiple subheadings including facts. Many teachers like to read a paper supported with cold, hard facts and this screen provides just about any fact a student needs. One reoccurring argument in the climate debate is rather the arctic is melting and if this in turn is leading to rising sea levels. The United Nations Climate Change Portal facts page has the following quick fact on this issue: “Arctic sea ice — Annual average Arctic sea ice extent shrunk by 2.7 per cent per decade. Sea-ice decreases overall in summer by 7.4 per cent. Paleoclimate information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 meters of sea level rise.”

But this portal doesn’t stop at numbers. An added annoyance for students is finding photographs to support their papers. This site includes photographs covering diverse climate topics such as the global seed vault at Longyearbyen, Norway, the retreating Polar ice rim and Switzerland’s decreasing glaciers.

For students researching climate change, folks just wishing to settle an argument, or learn about the latest finding, visiting United Nations Climate Change Portal facts page should do the trick. And don’t forget to visit the libraries many journal databases. You can find a wealth of material on climate change, and just about any other topic, with your library card.

Submitted by David Ryan
Business, Science & Technology/Social Sciences Department
Central Library

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